Hybrid War: Integration Like Never Before.
Author: Hussain Bassim Abdulameer
Political Studies Dept/ Center for Strategic Studies
4 January 2021
During the past decade, the concept of hybrid warfare has attracted intense attention in the world military community. Allegedly, hybrid war theory have first proposed by U.S. military experts such as Frank Hoffman 2007. Scholars point out that, due to the influence of globalization and technological proliferation, the traditional “large-scale conventional war” and “small-scale unconventional war” are gradually evolving into a kind of warfare that is more blurred. Combat style will become more focused on hybrid warfare fusion methods: “A vague war mode, blurred warring parties and technical application.” The U.S. military has highly valued the theory of hybrid warfare. The concept of “hybrid conflict” has been incorporated into the U.S. military strategy; The 2015 “U.S. National Military Strategy” listed it as a threat pattern that the U.S. military should focus on . It has also pointed out that conventional military operations as non-state actors will become a new model of future warfare. This conflict combines traditional combat operations with unconventional combat operations and creates more significant uncertainty to take the initiative.
Based on the summary of several wars in recent years, the U.S. military has proposed several new war theories. However, it is still mostly focused on a specific technology, how to implement some of the latest platforms, or how to produce new multi-service joint combat strategies, such as how to increase combat effectiveness. The concept of hybrid warfare differs from these ideological innovations confined to the military field and reflects the U.S. military’s breakthrough thinking on future wars. In Hoffman’s view, hybrid warfare widely combines conventional capabilities, unconventional tactics and organization, terrorist acts and disruptions, and various other warfare types, mixing combat forces, techniques, and forms of war into countless and increasingly complex combinations . Eventually, the boundaries of war became blurred and indistinguishable, and hybrid warfare developed into an infinite combination of various forces and means. This theoretical innovation represents a new trend in the development of the U.S. military’s war thinking, that is, breaking through military limits, bringing more fields and more elements into the war, and thinking about war and conducting operations with “unprecedented integration.”
Interestingly, the “Unrestricted Warfare” published by the Chinese military theorists in 1999 was listed by the U.S. military as a significant source of hybrid warfare thinking. It was even described as the Eastern or Asian version of hybrid warfare. Since unrestricted warfare points out, potential conflicts would encompass the connection points between technology, politics, economy, nation, culture, diplomacy, and the military, resulting in endless opportunities and complexity. Interestingly, the United States also believes that Russia’s military operations in Crimea in 2014 and subsequent eastern Ukraine operations fall under the hybrid warfare framework. Therefore, the U.S. military must adjust its strategy to deal with the real threat represented by Russia. In addition to the sources of thought and practice provided by the American, Chinese, and Russian military personnel, the U.S. counter-terrorism practice since September 11ember has also been regarded as one of the sources of hybrid warfare.
It is notable that American war practice is the real source of hybrid warfare thinking. Most of the insights in the U.S. military minds are based on the practice of contemporary warfare. Similarly, the U.S. army’s military thinking innovation’s faltering pace is also born out of the unique thinking style and technical inertia. They always hope that technological innovation or the emergence of disruptive technologies will enable the U.S. military to maintain the advanced technological generation over rivals forever. However, the practice of modern warfare has repeatedly proved that technology cannot solve the problem of the rationality of war goals. If the proper goals are lost, they will lose the war even if they can win on the battlefield. In our view, hybrid warfare is a form of warfare that has become increasingly prominent. Its primary feature is to break the field’s limits and integrate several tactics to achieve the war goal. It does not have a continuous line of combat contact with troops and breaks through deep and multidimensional combat, presenting a military-civilian interweaving scene; diffuse confrontation is always present. This is a new form of war that needs to be dealt with under the overall security concept’s direction.
The exploration of hybrid warfare is a leap beyond the norm for the U.S. military. However, the U.S. military has stopped at a combination of multiple fields. This may be due to the indulge in the American military superiority. A practical question that needs to be confronted today is finding a way to cope with hybrid warfare because the mystery of future wars is likely to be hidden behind this problem and become an innovative breakthrough point for controlling future wars.